Probe (Star Trek: TOS tie-in book)

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Title: Probe
Creator: Gene DeWeese
Date(s): 1992
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
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Probe is a Star Trek: TOS tie-in novel mostly written by Gene DeWeese.

The Rewrite

It contains seven percent of Music of the Spheres, which is Margaret Wander Bonanno's unapproved version of "Probe." [1]

Although the name on the book is Margaret Wander Bonano, Ms. Bonano says that Paramount would not allow the book to be published without some heavy revision by other Trek authors, including Gene DeWeese. Apparently, the book as written by Ms. Bonano did not reflect Paramount's “view of the Star Trek Universe." Paramount held up publication for over a year until Gene DeWeese did the rewriting. [2]

Probe was contracted for, written, and turned in to Pocket Books by Bonanno for its scheduled April 1991 release, but Paramount, which approves all Star Trek novels, sat on it for quite awhile, and then rejected it because it didn’t project the Star Trek universe they wanted. Without her permission, Pocket Books had the book rewritten by others, including Gene DeWeese, but Bonanno’s name has remained on the cover. Bonanno has denounced the book, while acknowledging that the contract she signed with Paramount Communications, which owns both Star Trek and Pocket Books, allows them this right. She adds that she is responsible for only about 7% of it., with the rest changed beyond comprehension. Pocket Books refused comment, except to imply that this was “...the editorial process that any book goes through.’’ Bonanno has asked Pocket Books to remove her name from the book, and Pocket Books declined. (This is not the first time that Pocket has issued “rewritten’’ books. Brad Ferguson has disowned his novel A Flag Full of Stars after J.M.Dillard was called in to rewrite it. Ferguson was very displeased with the new version.) [3]

Fan Comments

Well, what do you know, a book that is actually good for a change. Well, maybe good isn’t the proper word; let’s just say that I was able to read it from cover to cover. That’s something I can’t say for the last 6 to 8 Star Trek books published. It was kind of a hokey premise for a story, and had a plot line that you needed a damage control team to support. But parts of the book were actually good and made me want to read on.

In this book, you get to see what’s going on in the mind of the mind of the probe spacecraft, what its mission is. Also, you get some lead-laden hints that the probe had encountered the Borg and managed to defeat them, but received damage in the incident and lost most of its memory.

I would have to say that this story could have been told better; for one thing, they could have done without adding the phony peace talks between the Romulans and the Feds. It is a good story; as I said before, I actually finished this one, so they must have done something right. [4]

... this novel had some problems getting to print. Bonanno claims that only 7% of the final is hers, and I believe it. There are a pitifully few pages where the prose comes alive, as do the characters. These, one suspects, are the sections left unchanged after the rewrites ordered by Paramount.

It’s a pity that they found it did not reflect their conception of the ST universe. It appears the conception held by officials approving such authorised publications as the novels is deadly dull and conservative. Moreover, they seem to have decided to curb any externally originating ideas which might be better than their own. (e.g. the Diane Duane/Peter Morewood conception of the Romulans.) We’ve seen some good, and a few excellent, ST novels over the last ten years, but that may not continue for much longer. The presently preferred style of Paramount officials seems to be that of Gene DeWeese, who was called on to do most of the rewriting — an author whose first few published works were so densely written and boring that they were a waste of time to read.

Unfortunately, Probe is largely a DeWeese-style novel with cardboard characters and trite plot developments. Ultimately, the way in which the Probe entity is handled at the novel’s end is ludicrous. It goes looking for humanoid life with which to communicate, and does everything but invite them over to do the lunch thing.

Collect this novel for completeness of your collection and for the traces of the original version that remain. This novel is no Don Giovanni, no work of genius; call it instead a Salieri, plodding, average, exemplifying nothing but mediocre product. [5]

Further Reading/Meta


  1. ^ pdf, retrieved October 13, 2016
  2. ^ from Atavachron v.7 n.2 (1992)
  3. ^ from Atavachron v.7 n.2 (1992)
  4. ^ from Atavachron v.7 n.2 (1992)
  5. ^ from Atavachron v.7 n.2 (1992)